Weekend Wellness – Heart Attack and Stroke Signs

Week-End Wellness

by Tammy Parkinson

wellness heartIn the last couple of years, 2 very close people in my life have had frightening health scares.  One a heart attack, one a stroke.

I’ve known several people who have survived these two life threatening complications, but what makes these two individuals stand out is they are young, healthy, strong, fit, eat well and two whom you’ve never guess would be in a hospital due to a heart attack or a stroke. It can happen to any of us.

We become more aware as we get a little older but if you are in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s it’s not even a hiccup on your radar.

I thought it would be helpful to do a little research on the symptoms of how to recognize these two medical problems.  In my research, I learned quite a bit and thought it prudent to pass along the information I found..

I would like to add that to assist in avoiding a heart attack and/or stroke eating low sugar, low sodium foods, along with reduced saturated fats and very low (if any) trans-fats are optimal.

Another key key key factor is managing stress.  Stress is a common thread with many Stroke and Heart attack victims.

Information taken from WebMD, Livestrong, and Health watch

Heart Attack:
During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced or cut off, often because a blood clot blocks an artery. When the heart muscle is starved of oxygen-rich blood, it can die.

Ideally, treatment to restore blood flow, such as angioplasty or clot-dissolving drugs, should begin within one hour after symptoms begin, the American Heart Association (AHA) says. The faster you can get to the emergency room, the better your chance of survival. And yet, one study found that half of people with heart attack symptoms delayed seeking help for more than 4 hours.

Heart attack symptoms:
Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may come and go.

  • Discomfort in other areas, such as the neck, arms, jaw, back, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Women may get chest pain or discomfort, but in many cases, it’s not the most obvious symptom. Instead, they’re more likely than men to have these symptoms:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Abdominal discomfort that may feel like indigestion
  • Discomfort described as pressure/tightness or an ache in the neck, shoulder, or upper back

Here’s how Rosie O’Donnell, a recent heart attack victim, describes women’s heart attack symptoms:

___

In the weeks before an actual heart attack, some women may get these signs as a warning that an artery is blocked. If you or anyone you know develops unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath, or abdominal pressure that feels like indigestion, call a doctor.

Heart Attack Symptoms: What to Do

If you or someone near you has heart attack symptoms, don’t wait for more than 5 minutes to call 911. Have someone else drive you to the emergency room only if you can’t call 911 for some reason, experts say. Never drive yourself unless you have no other option.

“People need to understand that 911 gets you into the hospital in a really rapid manner.  You bypass a lot of the process in the waiting area and you’re immediately taken back.”

Calling 911 is best because emergency medical personnel can start treatment, such as oxygen, heart medications, and pain relievers, as soon as they reach you. They can also alert the hospital to begin preparations for tests and treatment.

Before the ambulance arrives, here are other ways to help yourself or someone else having heart attack symptoms:

  • The patient should chew and swallow an aspirin.
  • The patient should stop all activity, lie still, and try to remain calm.
  • If the patient becomes unconscious, stops breathing, and doesn’t respond to stimulation, such as shaking, he or she may be in cardiac arrest. In other words, the heart stops beating. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is on hand, follow instructions on the device and use it immediately. The device can deliver an electrical shock that can restore normal heart rhythm and make the heart beat again. If the heart doesn’t start beating, a trained person should begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • If the patient becomes unconscious, doesn’t have a pulse, or isn’t breathing, a trained person should perform CPR. If you’re not CPR-trained, a 911 dispatcher may be able to talk you through the steps until help arrives.

Angina

A heart attack can be hard to distinguish from Angina, which is temporary chest pain or pressure that happens when the heart muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen. Angina usually occurs because arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart have become narrowed or blocked. Strong emotion, physical exertion, hot and cold temperature extremes, or a heavy meal can trigger Angina.

Angina Symptoms:

  • Pressure, pain, squeezing, or a sense of fullness in the center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in the shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw

If you have stable Angina, symptoms usually happen with predictable triggers. They usually stop if you rest or take nitroglycerin that your doctor has prescribed. Follow your doctor’s orders for when to call 911. For instance, patients are often instructed to take nitroglycerin pills within a certain amount of time and then call 911 if symptoms don’t go away or if they get worse.

If you have unstable Angina, the chest pain comes at unexpected times, even with little physical exertion. Symptoms don’t go away with rest or medication. It can be hard to distinguish unstable Angina from heart attack symptoms. If your chest pain doesn’t improve after you’ve taken nitroglycerin, or if it worsens, call 911.

If you get chest pain for the first time, call 911. If you’ve never been prescribed nitroglycerin, don’t take anyone else’s, says Alfred Sacchetti, MD, an emergency physician and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Stroke

A stroke is also known as a “brain attack.” Arteries to the brain become blocked or rupture, causing brain cells to die. Getting medical treatment within an hour after symptoms begin can reduce disability following a stroke. Strokes can cause permanent brain damage and paralysis.

If you or someone near you has stroke symptoms, call 911 right away and get to an emergency room as soon as possible, preferably within an hour, experts say. Every minute counts; the longer a stroke continues, the greater the potential damage.

Stroke Symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially if it occurs on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, double vision
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Some people confuse stroke symptoms with vision problems, Daya says. People with diabetes may attribute confusion and weakness to low blood sugar rather than a stroke. Because many people are unfamiliar with stroke symptoms, they may not call 911 quickly. Some research shows that people often wait 3-6 hours before seeking help.

Make sure everyone in your household knows how to recognize stroke symptoms so that they can call 911 if the person with symptoms is unable to do so.

I hope this is helpful and can at minimum raise your awareness of what to do for another and what to do for yourself.  Stay well. 
Tammy Parkinson  CNC CLC CPT
Body Firm
www.mybodyfirm.com

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